I screamed. At the top of my lungs.

2 May

It was Monday.  I managed to pee by myself in the bathroom, only to discover Seabass had pushed Sweet Chuck over from a sitting position and was slapping her head with both hands repeatedly while she cried.  And     I     simply    lost     it.

Lost what? you ask, innocently.  My mind.  My dignity.  My equanimity in the face of difficulty.  It all went far, far, so very far away.

I sort of watched the scream coming, as if in slow motion.  Here it comes I gotta hold this one back or it’s gonna be ugly and think about what the neighbors will think uh oh too late:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

The scream was so long and from so deep in my gut that the kids were already crying by the end of it.  Oh, they were so scared.  All day long, I had been saying “Don’t do this” and “Don’t touch that” and “Don’t hit her” and “Stop grabbing” and “If I hear any more whining…” like a broken record.  And finally, something new came out of my mouth.  It got their attention, all right, but it wasn’t pretty.

After a few moments in which all three of us shed tears, I had the presence of mind to apologize.  “Screaming is never okay, you guys.  I am so sorry.”  Then hugs all around.  The creepy hugging-too-long-and-too-hard-because-Mama-feels-guilty sort.

Things haven’t really been the same since, especially between me and Seabass.  He’s a little sullen and a lot sensitive.  He might be obeying me more, but he’s not the sparkly, affectionate boy he was just a couple weeks ago. Did I ruin him forever?  Will he have to join a 12-step group to recover?

I’ve told a couple fellow moms about the scream, expecting their jaws to drop in horror.  Of course, they didn’t.  One mom actually said, “Who among us hasn’t screamed?”  And while it certainly helped, for the time being, I’d like to keep that question rhetorical.  It would hurt too much to discover that, in fact, almost nobody acts this way.

The Facebook version of our life at home.

The Facebook version of our life at home.

Everything happens in cycles around here.  One week we’re dancing in the living room every night, and the next week we’re weeping and gnashing our teeth in Gehenna.  I used to blame it on Seabass.  And while he certainly is a force to be reckoned with, it isn’t he who sets the tone in our home.  It’s me.  And that, my friends, is a lot of pressure for someone born of such mercurial stuff as I.

...aaaaaand the real version.

…aaaaaand the real version.

I’ve been working really hard since Monday to surrender my impatience and rage in exchange for peace and kindness, and it has worked decently well, but it won’t last.  I’ll fail again.

How to overcome?  No really.  This is a question for which I’d seriously like an answer.

I commented to Jake the other night that our premarital counseling (required by many churches) from 11 years ago continues to bear fruit in our marriage today.  I regularly think back on the words we read from the book As For Me And My House by Walter Wangerin, and apply them as needed.  Surely parenting is as hefty a commitment as marriage; why don’t we encourage pre-parental counseling?

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8 Responses to “I screamed. At the top of my lungs.”

  1. hankman2k May 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    The number of times I’ve screamed, yelled, flown off the handle and then had to apologize can not be counted on one hand (or two, or even using my feet). Showing, not just teaching, how to apologize and ask for forgiveness is huge, even when they’re this young. We are not perfect parents/spouses/humans and the sooner our kids come to terms with that, the sooner they can learn to make it right.

  2. Anonymous May 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I was lucky enough to have 14 -year-old step-daughter Sara in my life when Maggie was about 3 and Patrick was about 15 months. After one particularly loud and inept effort at “disciplining” the toddlers, Sara gently suggested to me that I take a walk around the block. She looked a little scared when she suggested it. I was ashamed of myself. And I think I took a walk around the block. Thanks, Jaime, for talking about how hard it is and letting me know that I’m not the only mom who’s lost it.

    One thing I could do? I could apologize appropriately (hold the drama) and stop my sentence after “I’m sorry.” NOT “I’m sorry, but….” and then explain to them how they made me behave that way.

    It worked out in the end.

  3. Anonymous May 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Hey! didn’t mean to be anonymous- it’s me, Sandi

  4. Marta May 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I have screamed. I have screamed at the top of my lungs lounder than I thought I could and then there was that second of complete stunned silence before the tears. The guilt and the fright all mixed up. I read a post to day by Heather of the extraordinary ordinary and it was about being a good mom that relates to what you’re saying. It was one the most well written posts I’ve read and it was so true and real.

  5. Mommy Adventures May 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    You are not alone at all. With the two kids it is a constant struggle every day to maintain my cool, and I usually fail. I even said to my husband the other day that I can’t wait until they are both in school. I feel guilty for feeling that way but oh my gosh the fighting, hitting, whining, etc. pushes me to my limits. They seem to only listen if I raise my voice, so I think I’m pretty much always yelling at them. Then they go to bed and I feel guilty for the days events and resolve to have better patience the next day but that only lasts so long and the cycle continues. I definitely need some patience. Sigh.

  6. Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Everyone loses it (Unless they are medicated not to do so) including your children. Apologizing for doing so may indicate that there is something wrong with them if they show emotion. Humans are EMOTIONAL. Showing tolerance for our humanness creates homes where emotions are worked through rather then acted out outside the home. Good for you for showing him where your boundary actually is. You are clearly a very good mother.

  7. Linda Z May 4, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    I have screamed… many times more than once! You are definitely not alone! Teaching toddlers to be gentle is tough stuff. Sometimes you have to at least have a really stern voice when there’s a serious safety issue. With the normal day to day stuff, God had to show me I was losing my sense of humor. Really my humor had left completely. When I began laughing again, and not taking things so seriously, there were less “losing it” moments and the kiddo got a better attitude, too.

  8. Sunny Love June 18, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Thank God for this post! Today was the day which I screamed like a maniacal banshee getting slaughtered in the barn…and now I’m feeling guilty and rotten as can be. I did explain why I screamed and we hugged, and we shook off all the bad stuff, balled it up and threw it way into space where we’ll never see it again. I live halfway around the world from my mom and sisters, and it’s been really tough not being around anyone I can trust to unload/reflect on. Thank God for the internet. My only fear is that this becomes a habit, usually it’s there’s a first time, there’s a second, etc…and I do not want to make this a habit at all. How do we make it better?

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